MSO8564 - 19th Century water meadow at Halse Farm (Monument)


A post-medieval field gutter system is visible on aerial photographs taken in 1947 and 1973.

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Type and Period (1)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

A water meadow system was seen on aerial photographs just to the north of Halse Farm. [1,2] A water meadow of probable 19th Century date is visible on aerial photographs as earthworks extending to the northwest and southeast of Halse Farm, centred at circa SS 896 342. This is a type of water meadow known as catchwork or field gutter system, commonly found on combe or hill slopes and designed to irrigate pasture by diverting water from a spring or stream. The water is usually carried along the valley sides via one or more roughly parallel channels or gutters and when irrigation was required the gutters were blocked, causing water to overflow from gutter to gutter, thereby irrigating the slopes. This film of water prevented the ground freezing during the winter and raised the temperature of the grass in the spring, thereby encouraging early growth, particularly important during the hungry gap of March and April. This system covers an area of circa 11 hectares around Halse Farm. It was probably supplied primarily by a spring rising to the northwest of the farm, but supplemented by a small pond or reservoir that may have stored water immediately to the south of the farmstead. The pond may additionally have been used to mix manure with the water to create liquid fertiliser onto the pasture. The pond is marked on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map and the system may therefore predate 1889. The water meadow can still be seen in use on aerial photographs of 1973. [3-6]

Sources/Archives (6)

  • <1> Report: Francis, P.T.H.. 1984. A Survey and Description of the "Catch Meadow" Irrigation Systems Found in the Exmoor Region of West Somerset. 38.
  • <2> Aerial photograph: Aerial photograph reference number . CPE/UK/1980 3352 (April 1947).
  • <3> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR RAF CPE/UK/1980 3352-3 (11 April 1947).
  • <4> Aerial photograph: Various. Various. Vertical Aerial Photograph. NMR OS/73086 780-1 (17 April 1973).
  • <5> Monograph: Cook, H. + Williamson, T.. 2007. Water Meadows: History, Ecology and Conservation. Windgather Press. 1st Edition. 1-7, 28-9.
  • <6> Archive: 2007-2009. Exmoor National Park NMP: SS 83 NE. MD002192.



Grid reference Centred SS 896 341 (658m by 589m)
Map sheet SS83SE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

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External Links (1)

Other Statuses/References

  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MMO360
  • Exmoor National Park HER Number (now deleted): MSO11830
  • National Monuments Record reference: SS 83 SE39
  • Pastscape / NRHE HOB UID: 932930
  • Somerset SMR PRN (Somerset): 34408

Record last edited

Mar 31 2021 3:47PM


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